The American Religious Right is waging a bloody war on LGBT people throughout the world, from Europe to Africa, lighting the fuse and then running for cover so as to look blameless when the ideological bomb they have planted goes off.
The now infamous history revisionist and anti-gay evangelist Scott Lively is a salient example. The Springfield pastor, spawn of the American Family Association now turned freelance, has the ignoble honor of being among the first in America to be subject to a lawsuit for human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated abroad, with the Ugandan group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) arguing in a Massachusetts court this month that Lively’s ministry in Uganda was a direct advocate of a bill that would later threaten the very lives of the country’s LGBT people.
By his own admission, Lively’s working holiday to Kampala in March of 2009, along with cohorts Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge, was a mission that saw the band of morally bankrupt men firmly and uncompromisingly lie — or “speak God’s truth” as they would term it — about the so-called “gay agenda” and rally Uganda’s religious groups to unify against the country’s gay citizens. As to the extent of their influence, Lively wrote a few days after his visit to Uganda that ”someone had likened their campaign to ‘a nuclear bomb.’”
When, mere months later, Ugandan backbencher David Bahati published his infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, that would in due course accumulate its media hook “The Kill the Gays Bill” for its death penalty for repeat offenders provision, Lively was already dolling out his generous anti-gay exhortations elsewhere. He did, however, spare a few words to express his disappointment that the bill was quite so harsh. In advising the country’s lawmakers, he had never meant to advocate for extermination, he clarified. No, rehabilitation through the loving hand of ex-gay therapy was to be the answer, this an essential difference between death by blunt trauma and the friendly poison that by drop after spirit-crushing drop destroys completely; something that presumably he could teach for a nice fat fee.
Let’s tot up the true depth of the injury Lively and friends perpetrated in Africa. Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill threatens still, and around it now wobbles an always teetering domino effect, with Ghana, Liberia, Cameroon and Zimbabwe all having felt the need to at the very least reaffirm their commitment against homosexuality and, in Liberia’s case as the very worst, begin to formulate its own version of the Kill the Gays bill.
Lively has also directly bedded the Right, ideologically speaking of course, in numerous countries since, including Moldova and in Russia where, after letting rip with his noxious treatise on how gays are the root of the anti-Christian Left that will bring down civilization, he left them to their ecstasy of fumbling – and fumble they did, producing little colonies of anti-gay legislation culminating in one much more comprehensive national piece, to which we will return later.
That there is now even the possibility, shaky as it is, that Lively may be held accountable for his actions abroad has the American Right suffering the vapors and them crowing how this is the death knell for Right thinking, good Christian living. The efficacy of the legal case against Lively aside, it is no wonder that such a frenzy has been created. American exports in the commodity of anti-gay fervor are at a premium. Admittedly, most have been repackaged under the gay marriage versus “traditional” marriage false paradigm, but even a mild attention to detail reveals the massaging done by the American Right.
We take, for instance, the obvious: Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage taking a trip to France just as French religious conservatives happened to be marshaling a protest against a marriage equality bill proposed by President Francois Hollande’s socialist party. Brown, turning to the camera, took time to extol the virtues of the “million” strong who marched in early January, with NOM shamelessly lauding “this new international solidarity movement in defense of marriage, children and family.”
Then somewhat more subtle at first glance: England and Wales have just seen published their draft same-sex marriage bill. The group that congealed to oppose the legislation, the Coalition for Marriage, has a decidedly American National Organization for Marriage or Frank Schubert musk – even down to similarities between its campaign videos and, say, those released in Minnesota in 2012.
This is not to mention that, for years now, legal groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, formerly the Alliance Defense Fund, have regularly filed briefs in cases before the European Court of Human Rights hoping therein to chip away at Europe’s insulated human rights protections and have the court find reason to prioritize religious zealotry over basic LGBT rights and human freedoms. So far, little to no success.
Lively’s old loves at the American Family Association are also busy cheering the Russian Duma’s despicable push to outlaw freedom of assembly for LGBT people, the aggressive national anti-”homosexual propaganda” law that last week passed its first vote as gay protesters were recovering from being pulverized in the streets, bemoaning that America should see its error and follow Russia’s lead.
And so we come full circle. The battle against gay rights has been lost in America. It may take a decade yet, but the inexorable creep toward full recognition of LGBT dignity is well underway and, through America’s firm grounding in the value of the secular, it is a corner that once turned cannot be reversed easily.
Knowing this, Lively and his ilk have taken to shipping their moral atrocities abroad, hoping that their dominionist seeds will take root somewhere else, always of course being well away from the danger zone when their ideological bomb goes off, and always cowering behind a warped First Amendment shield.
The question, of course, is how long America’s conscience can allow this sort of thing to go unchecked – and, in some cases, rewarded through tax breaks and deferential treatment.
Image credit: Thinkstock.